(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
November 20, 2011
YECHURY AT STANFORD UNIVERSITY
Economic Reforms Led to
Growing Inequalities in India
global financial meltdown of 2008 had not
affected India so much, it was largely due to the stance
taken by the Left
against full convertibility of Indian rupee, increasing FDI
caps in insurance,
privatisation of banks and pension funds etc. As a result,
started off by informing the audience in
this premiere institute in
Referring to the address delivered by union minister Salman Kurshid a day before at Stanford, wherein he mentioned about the Formula One car race held in Delhi and stated that 'India has arrived', Yechury reminded the audience of the speech made by the former President of India K R Narayanan who had said “We are building great highways, but remember to take care of pedestrian crossings”. Yechury argued that reforms will have to be considered in the ambit of the socio-economic conditions prevailing in the country. He quoted from the Economist magazine which carried an article 'Building India Inc', in its October 22, 2011 issue wherein it stated, “India is a superpower-in-waiting whose people vote, whose society is raucous, and whose corporates are red-blooded and striding onto the world stage”. But two lines later it asserted, “But that view is a delusion”. Yechury quoted data from the Planning Commission’s recently published India Human Development Report. 'Nearly 300 million people are living beneath the officially declared poverty line. From 1973-74 to the present, only 19 million people have been lifted above the poverty line. Forty per cent of our children are malnourished, 79 per cent are anaemic, etc.
said one must always keep these things
in mind while discussing about reforms in
only 10 out of every 100 persons going to
Yechury reminded that one must recognise the dangers to the very democratic structure of our country due to the growing inequalities. He said that the Left in India is working overtime to rally people in fighting for policies that would bridge this growing economic inequality.
also participated in a panel discussion
on ‘Corruption and Governance in
The most important effect of corruption today was the denial of rightful share to the citizens. He quoted the huge loss to the exchequer due to the 2G spectrum scam and said that money could have been used for subsidising food or education for the entire population. Corruption has changed with the times. The earlier corruption in acquiring licenses has given way to present corruption in acquiring mining leases, he said. “The result of the so called economic liberalisation has been proliferation of crony capitalism. The type of liberalisation that was happening is creating two different Indias – one the Shining India and the other Suffering India, of which people do not speak much”.
Yechury expressed concern at the dangerous impact the corruption and black money was having on the nation’s electoral system. Talking about the Constitutional scheme of State institutions, he said that the final responsibility lies with the Indian people. “The Executive is accountable to the parliament, which is in turn accountable to the people. This system fails when the parliament itself does not meet regularly. Three years back the parliament met for only 46 days in a year”. Yechury underlined the need for the effective functioning of parliament in order to reflect popular sentiments in the process of legislation. He asserted that it is the responsibility of the parliament to enact a fool-proof legislation to check corruption.
initial presentation was followed by a
lively question and answer session. On the recent topic of
the popularity of
Anna Hazare's campaign, Yechury remarked that fasting is
something that has
great mass appeal in India. “Many famous leaders, right from
Mahatma Gandhi, to
JP, VP Singh used these forms”. About Lokpal as a total
solution to the bane of
To another question as to whether the CPI(M) would be relevant in 15 years from now, Yechury remarked “as long as what the CPI(M) stands for and says is relevant, the party will remain relevant”.
Yechury also spoke in another session on 'Governance and Accountability' held on November 4 and moderated by Nicholas Hope from the Stanford Centre for International Development. A distinguished audience among whom included Anne Krueger, former deputy MD of the IMF, Anoop Singh, former chief economist of World Bank and director of the Asia and Pacific Department of the IMF, Roberto Zagha, World Bank Country Director, India.
Referring to the paper of Anne Krueger on rent seeking, Yechury said that in the current context, it should be replaced with words ‘rent sucking’. He felt that corruption is no longer confined to the old petty type. “Newer forms of corruption are difficult to understand – for example in all the recent scams, hardly any black money was involved. Many of the transactions were made legally in white money. Even the PM remarked recently that India cannot afford crony capitalism which is on the rise. The recent mining scams and land mafia are examples of the same”, he said.
Disagreeing with the contention that there has to be depoliticisation of the reform process, Yechury asserted that there must be accountability to parliament.
Salman Khurshid, minister for law and justice, government of India; Chandan Mitra, member of parliament; N K Singh, member of parliament were among those who put forth their views on the subject.